Written by Ellis Ian Fields

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

image for University Challenge: A Game Of Two Halves.

This was an odd affair which seemed to run out of steam as one team's momentum ran down and their opponents failed to really get going.

And there was no fun! The only laugh was offered by Hertford College, Oxford, skipper Eleanor (?) Royrvic (the 'o' should be one of those Scandinavian things with a slash through it) apparently surprised that she knew an answer.

And Paxo managed not to get tetchy with any gaps in the teams' knowledge. It was like everyone was on tranquillizers.

My strawberries and home-made chocolate ice cream provided more interest. Though criticism should be levelled at the question setters - there was some tough and off-the-wall stuff this week: fungal diseases of plants and a weird one concerning a map of the USA (see below) to name a couple.

Paxo seemed to suggest from the start that University College, London, should win - after all they have 22,000 students to choose from, compared with Hertford's few hundred!

UCL did indeed get off to a flier and I began to wonder if we were in for a blood bath similar to last week's as Christopher Hale seemed unbeatable to the buzzer. Hertford fell into the red and it felt that UCL were much further ahead than they were when they managed to back into credit.

In fact UCL were only on 65 before Hertford managed to secure a starter which, however, they failed to capitalise on - hardly surprising: the most bizarre set of questions I can remember involved identifying a US state and a national flag covering its shape (the states and nations represented by the flags were connected by similar population size... I know.)

Mrs Fields's knowledge of US geography is, somehow, faultless (she can even do that thing of naming all the states in a couple of minutes) but her knowledge of the world's flags isn't. So we didn't score more than the unfortunate Hertford who had to make do with the starter-for-ten.

Surely our sitting room was not the only one echoing to the shout "George Harrison" before the music for one starter even began... the question asking who was taken to court in 1971 accused of plagiarising this song - which, of course, was the Chiffons' He's So Fine. Nobody got it.

When the "alleged plagiarism" round was eventually asked, UCL might have been embarrassed (probably not) that they failed to spot Coldplay - all alumni of their institution.

In the "second half" UCL seemed to lose momentum while Hertford started picking up points - but they never really got a run going.

They managed to get within 15 points (145-130) which was a splendid effort given their start. But it was too late and a low-scoring 155-125 was evidence of neither side really grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck.

Oh - and there were too many team members studying at a higher-than-undergraduate level for my liking. But there you go.

(Col Juan is away).

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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